27 October 2003 by Published in: writing 1 comment

This week’s fragment.
I missed last week’s in a flurry of work and other such
things, and this may be the last week I indulge in this until after
NaNoWriMo unless I give in to the terrified second thoughts I’m having about the non-substantial enough storiness of the thing I want to write and give it up before I even begin. Still, two years in a row would really be something, wouldn’t it? Shame to give up without even trying.

I trust no one that reads the dream section of my journal will be scratching their head wondering where I got the idea for this exercise.

This week’s fragments (they’ll be italicized in the text) are :

  • it’s the beginning of
  • hard to see the
  • turned it around to

The sky was paling all around the vast expanse of plains, but the sun itself had not yet touched the sky, the grass, or the face of the woman standing out in front of the fluttering banners. She stood stiffly, appearing tall without being so, her gray hair elaborately twined on her head and held in place by a delicate golden coronet. Her dress was crimson and porphyry, rich in design and ornamentation, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was royalty. Her countenance was serious without being grim, though the situation might well have warranted grimness. She faced South and she waited. There were three young lads standing immediately behind her. Two carried the standard of her nation and her throne, one carried the white flag of truce. One could not have said she seemed cowed, defeated or afraid, but the truce flag was raised higher than the other two, thus catching a higher breeze to flutter and flap, drawing the eye. Her counselors did not approve of her presence here. It was too dangerous, they insisted. It violated protocol, they fumed. There should be
ambassadors, they argued. The invaders were savages who would not respect royalty and anything might happen to her. It was possible, even likely perhaps, that they were right in their assessment. She had faced the wolves within, and now she must face the wolves at the door. She wanted to see for herself. She wanted to look into the face of the invader and see what was written there. If it’s the
beginning of
the end as her advisers had all wailed and feared it was, she wanted to know it for herself.

Some good distance behind her stood an army general with a troop of archers and division of foot soldiers. They were too far away to do her any good, but that was as she had instructed. In fact, it was hard to see the strength of their number from where she stood, though when the sun rose the gleam of their armor would give some indication of their presence. The Turk was reputed to be
quite a strategic master, and would know at a glance that they could not aid her. Her counselors would not have allowed her to appear truly alone, after all.

The sky had lightened and streaks of clouds overhead were now filled with a variety of pastel colors. It was a beautiful morning to be surrendering. The air would grow no warmer, however, and that crisp biting edge on the wind made the standard bearers periodically stamp their feet in an effort to ward off the cold. She would not scold them, as they too were risking their young lives, and had many
more days left to lose than she did at this late date. If she allowed herself to dwell on it, she would realize that there was a compelling ache in her aging bones now, and that she would have preferred to sit and to drink something hot than stand here any longer. To be a queen one could not allow one’s body to draw away in weakness. One must rule it more stringently than one ruled her nation. Thus she
directed her mind exactingly to the task at hand and away from her own discomfort. She squinted ahead and wished she had the eagle eyes of her youth, because the
horizon seemed to be moving. She breathed in and out slowly, easily, eyes fixed on the wavering horizon, waiting for it to resolve itself into men of war.

As the sun reached across the dew frosted grass of the never-ending valley, the great carrion birds that were said to be the constant companions of the Turk and his army wheeled in the bright sky above them. They uttered shrill cries that might have made someone more supersititious than the queen shiver. However, moments later, the low rumble that shook the ground beneath her feet did make her close her eyes in a brief prayer of protection while the canter of thousands of horses grew ever nearer. Unbidden, the image rose in her mind of the horses racing up to her and trampling her beneath their galloping hooves, never pausing, never registering her lone presence, crushing her like frosted grass beneath the morning sky.

And yet, even as she began to be able to tell the mass of horses apart from one another : this one black and that one roan, this one saddled and that one bare, this one with reins twined with colored ribbons and that one with small bells in its mane, they slowed their progress and came to neighing stops, occasionally rearing up as if impatient to move ever forward. These are the people who have come to
take my land. They too had banners, she noticed. Even at this distance she could see the stitching on them was crude and the material inexpensive. The bird that was said to be the strength of the Turk himself was depicted on them. It was rumored he had been born with a mark shaped just so, like the bird in flight, wings extended, on his chest. Then she saw the Turk himself, turbaned and bearded, in the middle of the row of horsemen. He led his horse forward a bit, then turned it around to face his troops. The queen tried to still her nervousness, knowing that he
would make her wait even longer than she had already, especially now that their exchange was so imminent. That was the luxury of the person dictating the terms of the encounter, and she had had it often enough herself to know that he would use it to his full advantage here and now. She occupied herself studying the line of horsemen while he spoke to them in a language she did not know but could easily distinguish from the triumphant tones and the rallying responsive cries of his audience. This was his victory speech.


Tue 28th Oct 2003 at 6:38 am

You made me look up porphyry.

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